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COUNCILS OFFER MIXED RESPONSE TO MILBURN'S PLANS FOR SOCIAL SERVICES

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Local authority councillors and directors of social services have welcomed...
Local authority councillors and directors of social services have welcomed

many of the aspects of secretary of state Alan Milburn's speech to

the annual social services conference yesterday (see LGCnet).

But they have criticised plans to 'fine' local authorities if the discharge

of older people from hospital is delayed by a lack of capacity in social

care.

Alison King, chair of the LGA's social affairs and health executive said: 'We don't believe that penalising local councils in this way will encourage better partnership working. The LGA is very worried by these proposals.'

Association of Directors of Social Services president Michael Leadbetter

said: 'At our recent executive council meeting, directors agreed that we

should continue to influence government's policy through active discussion

and participation. We recognise, along with the secretary of state, that

partnership is not always comfortable or easy.'

The associations broadly agreed with the government's decision to reduce the

amount of ring-fenced grant awarded to social services, as well as Mr

Milburn's outlining of his department's plans to introduce children's

trusts.

Cllr King said:

'There's much we can welcome in the minister's announcements. However, we

are keen to discuss these plans in much further detail. Local authorities

must be free to experiment with new ways of delivering services that will

address the unique needs of their own communities.'

Michael Leadbetter said that the government's proposals, while needing flesh

still to be put on their bones, represents the sort of thinking that

directors of social services have already been taking forward with

colleagues in the LGA and the NHS Confederation. Developing ways in which

all agencies can be bound in to arrangements which put children at the

centre of their thinking and activity is going to be a central task for

local authorities and social services in the coming years.

Both associations also welcomed government announcements concerning mental

health services for children and adolescents (CAMHS).

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